“Section 11 of the PHRA requires that the Central Government makes available to the NHRI a civil servant with the rank of Secretary to the Government to take the role of Secretary General of the Commission. In its previous review of the NHRC in November 2017, the SCA emphasized that ‘a fundamental requirement of the Paris Principles is that an NHRI is, and is perceived to be, able to operate independent of government interference. Where an NHRI’s members are seconded from the public service, and in particular where this includes those at the highest level in the NHRI, it raises question about its capacity to function fully independently’.
The SCA acknowledges the NHRC position that this arrangement ensures the necessary expertise for the role of the Secretary General. The SCA further acknowledges the report of the NHRC that it selects the Secretary General from a list of names identified by the Government and when selected, works under the NHRC full control.
The SCA continues to be of the view that, notwithstanding the justifications provided, these practices have a real impact on the perceived independence of the NHRI. Accordingly, the SCA recommends that the NHRC advocates for amendments to the PHRA to remove the capacity for the Government to make a senior civil servant available for the position of Secretary General, to empower the NHRC to independently recruit candidates for the position.
The SCA refers to Paris Principle B.2 and to its General Observation 2.4 on ‘Recruitment and retention of NHRI staff’.”